User’s Manual For Rental Property
Want to avoid common mistakes made by new property owners?
There’s now a user’s guide! Introducing a new Online Property Management Course for New Real Estate Investors
When you buy a washing machine or an air-conditioning unit, there’s always an instruction manual in the box or available online. Same goes for a new- or used car. When I want to know how to jump-start my car or change a tire, I take the user’s guide out of the glove box.
How many times have I wished that my buildings had a similar booklets!
Sadly, investment properties don’t come with a manual. That’s why I created my online course:
Affordable Online Real Estate Course
Few quality and affordable resources exist for small landlords to educate themselves. For years I wished that after helping a new investor acquire a property, I could refer them somewhere. I wanted a resource to help fledgling landlords know what to do with their new investment.
That’s why I created “Winning at Property Management in Quebec”. My course takes the guess-work out of property management especially in Quebec, where tenancy laws are some of the most tenant-friendly in the country. There’s now a user’s guide for new landlords in Quebec.
What Do I Need to Know as a New Landlord ?
My course aims to cover keys points in investment property in Quebec. My goal is to help you learn how to effectively set up your rental properties from top to bottom. I want you equip you to pursue the ultimate goal of real estate investing: solid, trouble-free cash flow.
You will learn how to:
- Maximize building revenues
- Understand and lower building expenses
- Effectively screen tenants to avoid problems before they happen
- Structure leases to your advantage
- Deal with typical problem-situations
- Create a renovation & maintenance game-plan to protect your investment
- Implement time-saving strategies that minimize headaches and risks
Finally, a bonus section will give you tips on Time Management in the real estate business.
Want to learn more?
Check out the course page here:
Or how is wanting properties like wanting a six-pack?
“I really want to make more money!”
This is often where conversations about investing start. Is this really the true reason why we want to invest?
Think about it this way. How many gym memberships are bought with the words: “I want a six pack for summer…” ?
Do we really want the six pack? Or are we after something else? Wouldn’t it be better to feel fit, healthy and confident when you wear that bikini or pair of board shorts to the beach?
My guess is it’s more about how we want to feel and less about the six pack itself. Maybe the six-pack is just shorthand, because we’re a bit too lazy to think about what will really make us content and confident in our skins.
Perhaps the gym membership is only part of the solution.
Why Invest in Real Estate?
Real estate investing isn’t that different.
Most of us start out thinking it’s all about the money. But what do we want more money for? When we really look at our motivations, we may find that we’re really after something else… something that will be better than a big bank balance.
To find out more, watch the first video in my five-part series on the basics of real estate investing…
We all know real estate investing is a good way to create wealth… but why exactly?
The answer: passive income. Real estate is such a powerful tool, because when we invest, we use capital to generate passive income. Maybe you’ve heard the word “leverage”?
Do you really get how it really works? How is investing different from working a job?
Let’s find out!
Do you have a J.O.B. ?
We first need to distinguish between passive and active income.
If you have a job, your income can be calculated with the following equation:
Number of hours worked x Hourly rate = Income
See the problem here?
There are only two ways to increase your wealth.
- Work more hours. For obvious reasons this isn’t a good idea, especially if your quality of life matters to you. Even if you overwork yourself, you only have a finite number of hours. Your time is the upper limit on how much you can make.
- Increase your hourly rate. This strategy may work if you put time into educating yourself or running after promotions, but sooner of later your industry will place a cap on the value of your time. Promotions aren’t a silver bullet either. They often come with more responsibility, more stress, and more hours, and there may come a time when getting promoted becomes a law of diminishing returns.
You need to find a way to unhook your income from your time and your hourly rate.
Professionals & Salespeople
So, you’re a professional – an accountant or lawyer maybe – and you think I’m not talking to you.
You don’t escape this problem just because you have a high hourly rate and no boss. Your income is still limited by the number of billable hours you have to sell.
Want more money?
You have the same options as an employee: raise your rate or work more. Either your clients will eventually balk at your fees or you’ll get too tired and overworked. It’s the same issue served with a different sauce.
Real estate agents, independent brokers and salespeople of all kinds – you’re in trouble too! While the money you make for an individual transaction may be high, your income still depends on the man-hours you have to create money.
Your income will be limited by the hours you have to put into generating business.
What is it? Why is it so good?
Passive income happens when you own a system that doesn’t obey the equation of hours x hourly rate = income. Think business ownership, stocks or real estate investments.
Passive income systems generate money whether you get out of bed or not. This is why creating or buying a system for producing passive income is the key to building wealth and to gaining control of your time.
Passive income is the means to escape the trap of selling your hours.
How do we create passive income?
We create passive income with leverage.
In real estate investing, you use capital (a down-payment) to set up a system that generates income with other people’s money and the market. Tenants pay the rent. You property appreciates. All this happens without you having to get out of bed.
Real estate investors also – perhaps without knowing it – leverage knowledge and social capital. Investors have networks that help find deals. The professionals, advisors, and contractors they work with help make good decisions, which end up making them more money. Knowledge about the property- and rental markets, tenancy laws, and so on can be leveraged to increase the profitability by making smarter and smarter moves.
This is another kind of leverage.
Of course leverage isn’t only to be found in the real estate sector. It’s a property of how businesses work. Business owners leverage specialized knowledge and human resources (other people’s time) to create income generation systems.
You’ll probably do this too when you become a landlord. Think of the concierge’s hourly rate versus yours. If his hours cost less than yours, you’re leveraging human capital to make more money.
Leverage is a powerful tool, because it allows you to move away from selling your time.
You can learn to use different kinds of capital – social, financial, and cultural – to create systems that provide return on investment in a way that is basically not tied to the amount of time you work.
This is how leverage and passive income fit together.
Should I Quit My Job?
“I understand passive income, should I tell the boss to take a hike?”
Not so fast!
Building passive income systems takes time. If you start investing today, it’ll likely be years before your passive income begins to exceed what you earn at your job. Real estate – like investing in stocks or starting a business – is a long game.
So, should you tell the boss to bite it today?
Probably not yet!
Should you start building a passive income system that will free you from selling your time?
Absolutely! Start right now!
And if you’re not sure how, pick a passive income vehicle (real estate, stocks, business) and educate yourself until you know how. Otherwise, you’ll be trapped selling your time for the rest of your productive life.
Hire a professional to rent or manage your properties?
Read what Terrie had to say to the French-language newspaper La Presse
Terrie Schauer is a real estate coach, speaker and author. Her domain of expertise: rental properties. She’s also a real estate broker and the owner of a property management agency. MyRoom Gestion manages around one hundred units in Montreal.
Most of the work associated with renting units is done by an administrative assistant. The person posts Ads, screens tenants on the phone and coordinates visits. “I only sign leases,” says the owner of the agency.
It’s possible to advertise on a variety of sites, but in Montreal, Kijiji works best, says Terrie Schauer.
“An Ad posted on Kijiji in the morning ends up on page 24 by lunch. It’s enough to make you want to pull your hair out if you don’t know what you’re doing.”
Answering the calls and emails generated an Ad is also demanding. First you have to make sure the caller actually read the whole advertisement, and that the unit matches their needs. Next, you have to question prospective tenants about their employment- and living situations.
Knowing the rental market helps maximize the price you’ll get for your units. “We track the stats of all the units we advertise,” explains Terrie Schauer. “If one unit is getting less clicks, we can reduce the price or take better photos. Sometimes a price adjustment of 15$ – 20$ makes a difference between no calls and twenty leads.”
Once someone applies, the agency does a full background check: credit score, criminal history, references from the current landlord and employer, and lastly, priors at the rental board (Régie du logement). In some cases, the company also runs similar checks on co-signers, if the prospective tenant is a student or a new immigrant with no credit history.
This service costs one month’s rent, whether the tenant stays in the unit for a year or more. MyRoom Gestion can also offer a full management service for a fee of 7 % of gross rent.
Is this advantageous for the landlord? If he or she lives outside the country or absolutely doesn’t want to deal with bad tenants, certainly it is.
It can even make financial sense. With her knowledge of the rental market, Terrie Schauer often manages to rent units for more money than if the owner handled the rental him- or herself. “If I can get you 10 % more on your gross rent and my services cost 7 %, you win without lifting a finger!”
Read the original article:
Not All Credit Checks Are Created Equal! Protect Your Credit Score
Here’s How to Check Your Credit Without Hurting It
Did you know that too many credit checks can lower your overall credit score? If you’re applying for a phone, a mortgage or an apartment, there are a few things you can do to protect your credit in the process.
Hard & Soft Credit Checks
The first thing to understand is that not all credit checks are created equal. There are “hard” and “soft” credit checks. A “hard” credit check affects your score negatively, docking somewhere around 5 points from your overall score (with Equifax, for example). The more “hard” credit checks you do in a small time-window, the bigger the amount of penalty points. The idea is that someone who does lots of credit applications in a short time is desperate for credit. As a result, you are penalized for too many hits to your credit in a short time. The credit rating agencies do not care that you may be shopping around for a mortgage. Because they don’t take this into consideration, you need to avoid to many “hard” hits to your credit score.
“Soft” credit checks, on the other hand, do not affect your score.
How can you know the difference?
Most third-party credit checks are “hard”. This means, when a landlord pulls your credit it will affect your score. Same thing for a credit card-, cellphone-, or mortgage application. If you sign a consent form for a third-party to check your credit, most likely it will have a negative impact on your score.
Some third-party systems are able to do “soft” credit checks, but the information provided in these checks is less thorough. This is why most companies prefer “hard” checks. Also, most lenders, landlords and phone company employees have no idea how the credit checking system actually works. They simply don’t know what their checking up on you is having a negative effect on your rating.
So, how can you be sure what type of check is being run?
How Can You Protect Yourself & Your Credit?
- Make sure you ask the third-party to provide some kind of documentation or guarantee as to what type of check they’re running (hard or soft). If they’re running a hard check, they should be able to tell you how many points you’ll lose as a result.
- If you’re shopping around for a mortgage, loan or apartment, make sure you get the landlord, banker or broker to tell you at what point they will hit your credit. Lenders can give you a quote without running a credit check. As you’re shopping around, make sure you do comparison shopping without a credit hit each time.
- Check your own credit and disclose it to the interested party. In Canada, a person is allowed to check their own credit without affecting their overall score. TransUnion and Equifax are the two credit rating agencies and they will provide you access to your own credit report for a fee. This helps when you want to check your credit rating for your own information. Most lenders, however, won’t accept a report you pulled yourself. (Photoshop anyone?)
- This is where third-party sites like http://www.backcheck.net come it. They allow a prospective tenant to request (and pay for) their own credit report, and then share it with a landlord. See the subtlety here? You’re requesting your score, so there’s no negative impact. The great thing about this is that both parties benefit: the landlord gets a third-part copy of your credit report (and so doesn’t have to worry that you doctored it with Photoshop), and you get to protect your score. The downside: it’ll cost you about 70$.
Landlords, Brokers & Investors
Landlords, as a courtesy to your tenants, make sure you know what kind of credit check you’re running and inform the applicant. At my firm, we now give our tenants a choice of which type of check they want. We can run our standard “hard” check for free as part of our application process.
If the tenant wishes to use a “soft” check instead, we refer them to http://www.backcheck.net/tenant-screening/residential/tenant-share.html and require them to assume the cost. Third-party sites like www.backcheck.net are available across the US and Canada. All a landlord needs to do is fill in his or her email, and then send the application to the prospective tenant. He or she then receives a copy of the report in their email inbox.
Tenants & Borrowers
Be warned: lenders and landlords are pretty ignorant about the kinds of credit checks they run.
I was! This issue came to my attention because an investor-client of mine did too many simultaneous mortgage applications and almost wasn’t able to qualify for financing because his credit score tanked! I did some research to understand how credit checking works and figured out how to help others avoid this situation in the future.
As a result, my property management company started offering a third-party “soft” credit check option very recently. Just because a lender or a landlord is a professional, doesn’t mean they understand the ins and outs of the credit checks they are running!
So, investor, tenant and buyer: as you go through various application processes, make sure whoever is handling your credit knows what they are doing. If they sound shaky, refer them to this article 🙂
Maybe they’ll learn something!
Bruce Lee on egolessness:
“The point is the doing of them rather than the accomplishments. There is no actor but the action; there is no experiencer but the experience.”
“The great mistake is to anticipate the outcome of the engagement; you ought not to be thinking of whether it ends in victory or in defeat. Let nature take its course, and your tools will strike at the right moment.”
“It is the ego that stands rigidly against influences from the outside, and it is this “ego rigidity” that makes it impossible for us to accept everything that confronts us.”
“Because one’s self-consciousness or ego-consciousness is too conspicuously present over the entire range of his attention, it interferes with his free display of whatever proficiency he has so far acquired or is going to acquire. One should remove this obtruding self or ego-consciousness and apply himself to the work to be done as if nothing particular were taking place at the moment.”
Be careful who you listen to!
Once upon a time, an old farmer found an eagle’s egg. Because he didn’t know where it had come from, yet he wanted the bird to have a chance at life, he placed it into the nest of one of his chickens.
The eagle hatched along with the other chickens. He learned to scratch for worms and to flap a few feet off the ground.
One day, the young eagle looked up and saw a majestic, older eagle soaring high in the sky. Captivated, he asked one of the older chickens:
“Who is that beautiful bird?”
“That is the eagle, the king of birds,” replied his chicken-friend. “They dominate the sky, while we chickens live on earth.”
The young eagle proceeded to live the rest of his life as a chicken, for that’s what everyone led him to believe he was.
Great weigh-in pic – right?
Jean Pascal vs. Bernard Hopkins.
Now look again.
Notice anything about these guys’ shoulders? Especially Jean Pascal’s?
You should. They exhibit a perfect example of what I’ve come to call “Boxer’s shoulder”. It’s the condition where either striking or the constant push-and-pull in Jiu-Jitsu causes your pectorals and the muscles in the front of your shoulders to become too tight for your back muscles.
The result: a rounded back with shoulders that slope forward. And that oh-not-so-nice pain in between the shoulder blades because your Rhomboids are too weak to hold you in the proper position.
If you don’t yet look like Jean Pascal, you want to try a dose of prevention.
1) If you’re striking a lot with your arms or doing a lot of Jiu-Jitsu, cut other “Pec” exercises like push-ups from your workout. You need to work on balancing your body. If you’re already over-exerting your pecs and the front of your body, take any additional time to do back exercises (like back extensions or reverse push-ups on the bench-press bar).
2) Stretch your pecs !
As muscles become stronger, they shorten. This is why boxers’ shoulders are out of alignment: their pecs are too short. You fix this by strengthening your back muscles, but also by loosening your front. A regular pec stretch on the floor or the wall should be done at the end of each workout.
Fixing Boxer’s Shoulder
If you’ve already become misaligned, you’ll want to follow the above advice, and step it up a notch. Preventing a problem is easier than re-adapting your body once it’s already gone out of whack.
You’ll want to add additional exercises to reinforce the backs of your shoulders. Try the “Dragon Fly”
or the Dolphin pose in Yoga.
The stretches to do are essentially those I mentioned earlier plus any other pec or front-of-shoulder stretches you might know.
You really want to integrate these stretches and exercises after every work-out if you find your shoulders are already slumped inwards.
You can also try to concentrate – during the day – to keep your thumbs pointing forwards when you stand. People with boxer’s shoulder tend to have the tops of their hands pointing forward when they stand. You want to rotate your hand so that the thumb points forward instead. This will force your shoulder into its correct position.
I was talking to one of my teammates the other day about the meaning of the word “Dojo”, and by extension what it means to go to the place where we learn our art. According to my teammate, a “Dojo” is “the place where we kill our Ego”. I thought this was a pretty cool ancient sound-bite because it encapsulates an important aspect of learning a martial art. No matter how confident or self-assured you are when you walk into the gym, it’s simply a matter of time before something humbling takes you down a notch. Whether you’re an instructor and a student asks you a question you don’t know how to answer or a beginner who is constantly physically humbled by the others in the school, Ego-destroying experiences are a vital aspect of being a martial artist.
After all, the Ego-killing aspect is one of the beautiful things about learning a martial art. Knowing how to defend yourself may build confidence, but lest that feeling grows into pride, your teammates are there to bring you back to earth with a submission or a tough sparring session in the ring. This is, of course, a bit of a paradox: training builds confidence but destroys Ego.
That being said, my teammate’s definition got me wondering. What is the ‘real’ definition of Dojo? And does this offer any insight into what it means to be a martial artist?
Dan Prager, the martial artists and blogger, answers this very question by citing Richard Strozzi-Heckler’s book Holding the Center – Sanctuary in a Time of Confusion:
A dojo is a space of commitment in which people practice together. What is powerful about the dojo is what it tells us of learning, and ultimately, of waking up, of being alive.
In Japanese, “dojo” refers to the place where we train “in the way”. This points to two important distinctions. The first is that the dojo is a place of learning where one practices what is being taught. This is different from the conventional classroom where students sit passively taking notes or listening to a lecture. This is not to say authentic enquiry is unavailable in lecture halls, but it points to the difference between academic knowledge and an embodied knowledge that allows people to take actions that sustain and enhance their lives. In a place of learning like the dojo students practice what is being taught and over time begin to embody the subject matter. It lives in the body, it is who they are.
The second distinction revolves around the concept of “Do”, which translates as “Way”. The origin of the word “dojo” comes from the Sanskrit bodhimanda, which means the place of awakening. The Japanese kanji for Do is composed of two parts. One depicts a man walking on a road. The other is the human throat, which surrounds the jugular vein, representing the very core and pulse of our life. A man walking toward life. The Way is a theme of life. The dojo is a place where we awaken our body, grow the self, and unite with the spirit through rigorous and compassionate life-enquiry.
(You can check out Dan’s blog at http://maaml.blogspot.ca/2009/09/dojo-its-purpose-and-meaning.html)
Okay – so it looks like my teammate wasn’t totally right.
But to my mind, there’s something very meaningful in what Strozzi-Heckler says. It reminds me of something a teacher of mine once said.
“No one owns Muay Thai,” one of my old instructors told us. “It travels through us. First, we learn the art to be able to fight, and then we teach it to others for the same purpose. Our goal as fighters and teachers it to pass on our art…”
We participate in our art but do not own it. If we train and teach well, others may also follow this way too.
Food for thought!